Taking out the trash isn’t as simple as it used to be. Most com­munities now have recycling laws, yard waste laws, hazardous waste laws, and more. Your community probably has curbside pick-up for recyclable glass, paper, plastic, cardboard, and metal containers, including aerosol cans. Bins are usually free, and sometimes multiple bins (which make sorting trash simpler) are provided at no charge. Communities without curbside pick-up usually have a recycling station or drop-off location.

Collection Sites

Most communities also have collec­tion sites for bulky items such as used tires, scrap wood and metal, computers and other electronic products, clothing, and textiles. In some places you can recycle leftover automotive supplies by taking them to an automotive service center, oil recycling station, or authorized collection site. Car and household batteries also can be turned in for recycling.

If you’re confused about rules in your community, contact your city’s municipal waste department or some of the waste clearance companies to obtain a list of accepted items, requirements for disposal, and fees.

Collection Containers

Place collection containers at source points in your home — bathroom, laundry room, garage, kitchen, home office, workshop — so you don’t have to separate items later. Rinse out food containers and bottles, flatten aluminum cans to save space, remove plastic linings from cereal boxes, throw out caps and lids, and keep cardboard boxes dry. Pay attention to what goes in your recycling bins: An empty cereal box is usually fine. A greasy pizza box? Probably not.

Donate electronics, toys, appliances, and other non recyclable items to charity or a thrift store. These organizations also accept clothing, furniture, books, and magazines. Be sure to make a list of your donations and their estimated worth and write them off on your income tax return.

Many UPS Stores and Mail Boxes Etc. locations accept foam pack­ing peanuts. Big-box stores like Wal-Mart often have a recycling bin for plastic grocery bags.

Old cell phones can be donated to charitable organizations. Many cell phone companies have recycling programs, too. (Be sure to deactivate your service first.)